There's nothing like PC gaming. Sure, consoles are cool, and being able to take something with you via tablet, PlayStation Vita and Nintendo 3DS works. However, a majority of gamers prefer sitting in front of their computer or laptop and toiling away for hours with the likes of League of Legends, World of Warcraft and Diablo III, as well as first-person shooters and other time-wasters.
When it comes to how they play, various options are available. Some prefer the comfort of a keyboard and mouse combination, especially with games that require split-second timing or getting a specific function nailed down. Meanwhile, others enjoy the feeling of a controller in their hands.
Which is best? It depends on several factors. Here, we weigh the pros and cons of each controller. Read on, and then make your decision on how to play.
When it comes to playing on a keyboard and mouse, the longer you do it, the better you become. It’s a bit startling at first, learning to use the WASD keys for general movement and tapping number keys to execute spells. Sometimes you'll end up hitting the wrong buttons entirely if you're not used to working on a keyboard, as I learned from my time with the Razer Blade Pro.
There's also something to be said about resting your hands on a keyboard and mouse for hours at a time. Not doing much with the left hand may lead to carpal tunnel down the road unless you have some kind of wrist support, which you can find at most dedicated PC gaming shops.
That doesn't necessarily make the controller better. Sure, it's more convenient to get character movement and precision aiming from a controller than it is with a mouse and keyboard, especially if you're used to that method. However, fatigue can set in if you play for numerous hours at a time, causing your hands to get sweaty and possibly cramp. It's best to have a control pad with built-in function for comfort, like rubber grips or maybe even AirFlo functionality.
Let's talk first-person shooters. With a controller, you're able to move around with ease and aim down iron sights by holding the left trigger button. On the other hand, there are times when you need more precision, and this is where the keyboard and mouse come into play. Using these, you can pinpoint your shots better. The downfall, however, comes with general movement, as your mouse might turn you around a little too quickly – depending on the model you're using.
However, when it comes to real-time strategy games, there's no question that a keyboard and mouse work to great effect. An RTS can be played all right with a joystick, but there are some functions missing. For instance, in Diablo III, you might not have access to all your immediate spells on the controller. It's best to have a keyboard where all your functions are right in front of you.
It's also easier to use a mouse or touch pad depending on the model, to make quick soldier selections. Company of Heroes 2 comes to mind, where you can select multiple units at once by dragging the area that your soldiers are in and issuing a command. Trying to do that with a controller isn't that easy; the Nintendo 64 version of StarCraft comes to mind.
With a keyboard and mouse, your option for PC gaming is already built in. Meanwhile, a controller is an alternate purchase – unless it's packaged in with the computer – and may not be up to performance speeds.
There are some controllers out there that aren't quite up to spec when it comes to hardcore gaming needs. Some of the $15 models, for example, are cheaply made and may come apart. On the other hand, some controllers are superb, like Microsoft's Windows device. It resembles an Xbox 360 controller but works best for particular games – though for some reason it doesn't support Torchlight II.
Meanwhile, your keyboard and mouse usually come with your computer, picked by the manufacturer with your best needs in mind, though it’s sometimes best to go third party. Razer, for example, knows its equipment; others, however, provide less-than-sufficient fare. Luckily, new keyboards and mice can be picked up with ease, including models by SteelSeries, Razer and more.
Some might think the keyboard and mouse option is the way to go, not only because they already come packed inside the box, but also because of functionality. However, you shouldn't hesitate adding a controller to the mix, mainly because you never know what game will work better with it. Enjoy the options you have, but don't be afraid to shop around.